Over Editing Is Just as Bad

When it comes to editing my own writing, I use Grammarly for proofreading because I like to double-check myself and my changes as I go through the varying stages of editing. I do have a battery of proofreaders and editors that also check my work for me, but I like being able to have something online that I can use as a back up during the earlier stages of the process.

Over recent years I have had my work edited by numerous edits. Often the same piece is edited by two if not three people, and the one thing I have noticed during this time, is that editing is actually pretty subjective. It depends on who the editor is, their background, their individual styles, their interpretation of the words they have in front of them.

There are a lot of so-called rules that are no always applicable… unless they are… but then in certain cases, they could still be ignored. Everybody has their own view on this, their own idea on how things should be written. From sentence structure and dialogue formatting through to paragraph length and the use of UPPER CASE letters to convey emotions.

I have known books of friends that have passed through so many editors hands that after a while they were not only editing the edits of the previous editor, but the story was slowly being unraveled.  It is no different to a translation. Moving from one language to another requires a skill set that can identify not only what is being said in the text, but what is being implied, and how the same would be phrased in another language. If you take that same translated piece and changed it into another language, and another, individual interpretations of what was being said in the first, original piece could be so different that you would not necessarily believe that they were about the same topic, let alone copies of one another.

Sure, nobody wants to read a book that has not been edited well, but nobody wants to read one that has been over edited, with no room left for personal bending of the rules, individual interpretation and tweaks that may not necessarily be correct, but allow the prose to be read in the way that fits the impression the author was trying to give.

I found a great article that looked at writing, at indie and traditional writers and took a look at what the readers had to say.

This little snippet I found to be very interesting:

  • Thirty-three percent said typos don’t bother them at all while only 8 percent said bad editing will cost an author a reader for life. Twenty-seven percent said they’d give an author another chance if the editing in the first book isn’t good whereas 24 percent said “typos drive me mad.

You can read the rest of the article here.

One thought on “Over Editing Is Just as Bad

  1. As an editor I have to agree – editors are subjective on many things – the placement (or not) of a comma can draw many different opinions from different editors. But we editors do for the most part follow style guides, although often we leave exceptions alone if they fit in the story and enhance it.

    I cringe at typos in printed work – newspapers or books, but I don’t blame the author. I blame the editor. Many authors are good writers – interesting story, good plot and characters, but their grammar, spelling isn’t exactly perfect. It’s the editor’s job to catch all that.So more than one pair of eyes on the manuscript can be helpful or at least the editor going through the manuscript more than just once. I do the former for my clients. But am harshest on my own writing in the rewriting process.

    I find with content, that yes, other readers/writers/editors may have differing ideas on what works and what doesn’t. I find where and when they all agree is someplace I need to take a look because maybe I’m being too subjective and they are objective.

    But, it should ultimately be the writer’s decision – which isn’t always the case with trade publishers. Fortunately, the editor at my publisher is reasonable and listens to what I don’t want changed. But he also makes some darn good suggestions which I will either follow to the letter. Or what sometimes happens with suggestions – you don’t use the exact suggestion, but the suggestion gives you, the author, an idea of a change you could make – one you discover for your yourself.


    Sharon A. Crawford

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